So, you’ve just made a major investment, and purchased a commercial refrigerator or freezer for your operation. Congratulations! We would love for your new refrigerator or freezer to provide years of reliable service for you and your customers. But that doesn’t just happen without giving your refrigeration unit the proper care and attention it needs in a busy kitchen.
The biggest obstacle to efficient operation of a commercial refrigerator or freezer lies in the condensing unit. The condenser is important because it removes heat generated by the compressor away from the interior of the appliance and dissipates it to the outside air. This keeps your refrigerator or freezer running efficiently. Dust and dirt are prone to accumulate along the condenser’s coils, blocking air from flowing through and causing the condenser coils to retain the heat that they are designed to dissipate. This makes the refrigerator work harder to function efficiently and uses more energy in general. Keeping the condenser coil clean on a regular basis is the most important thing you can do to ensure a long, reliable service life for your commercial refrigeration equipment. Best of all, it’s easy to do!
To start, you’ll need the following:
- Screwdriver (usually Phillips, but check user manual for your unit to make sure
- Vacuum with hose attachment
- Stiff bristle brush
- Can of compressed air
Step 1: Disconnect Power to Unit
Safety first! Never do any service work on your refrigerator or freezer without first unplugging the equipment.
Step 2: Removing the Grill
Your cooler or freezer will likely have a grill protecting the compressor unit. You’ll need to remove this to gain access to the condenser coils. Follow the instructions on your user manual to remove the grill. This is where you’ll likely need to use your screwdriver, as most grills are secured using screws.
Step 3: Brushing the Coil
Using your stiff bristle brush, gently brush away accumulated dirt from the condenser coils. Brush in the direction of the condenser fins, never across. Great care must be taken to prevent bending the fins. Bent fins block airflow to the condenser, which hurt the operating efficiency and shorten the life of your compressor.
If dirt is still sticking to the coils after brushing, use compressed air to blow the dirt clear.
Step 4: Vacuum Around the Condenser
Once you’ve brushed the condenser coil, vacuum excess dirt from the coil, making sure to run the hose in the direction of the condenser fins, never across. Vacuum in and around the compressor area, as well as under the equipment This is an important step to help prevent loose dirt from being sucked back into the condenser coils.
Step 5: Ensure that Dirt is Removed
Take your flashlight and shine it through the condenser coils. You should be able to see through the coils to the other side. If you don’t, that means there is still dirt to contend with. Repeat the previous steps until the light can shine through.
Step 6: Reinstall the Grill
Place the grill back over the compressor and condensing unit, using the screws and your screwdriver to secure it in place.
Step 7: Connect Power Back to the Unit
Once the grill has been reinstalled, plug the unit back in and check to make sure the compressor is running like normal.
How Often Should You Clean Your Condenser Coil?
It is recommended to clean your condenser coil every 60 to 90 days. How often you should clean depends on the environment your machine is operating in. According to True Manufacturing, a known leader in the commercial refrigeration industry, a good rule of thumb is to clean your coil every month for the first three months so you can get an idea of the type of dirt accumulation that occurs. From there, you should be able to set a schedule that works best.
Simply following this cleaning routine – and more importantly, sticking with it, will protect your investment and keep you from having to come back to Central sooner than you wanted to replace your refrigerator or freezer.
Of course, when the time does come to retire your existing equipment, Central is here to help. Speak to one of our helpful Product Consultants for any of your refrigeration or other equipment needs.
Images from True Manufacturing. Watch their video below to see how to clean their T-Series reach-in refrigerators.
Cody Bell is a content specialist with Central Restaurant Products. With over 7 years of experience in the foodservice industry, Cody has developed knowledge on topics from all aspects of commercial foodservice, from the front of the house to back of the house. He is a NAFEM Certified Foodservice Professional. In his free time, Cody likes to spend time with his wife and puppy.